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Social Media, Social Engagement, Social Commerce, Social MDM – Social Everywhere!

I recently had the pleasure of participating in a DM Radio panel on the subject of “social”. You can find a replay of the show here Going Social: Strategies and Policies for Harnessing Social Media.

I was joined by Andrew Collins (Medallia), Wilson Raj (SAS) and Clay Richardson (Forrester). We could have carried on discussing for hours on this subject which drew out great passion and enthusiasm from participants and moderators alike!  The conversation covered a lot of ground from the role of social in driving process alignment within enterprises to opening up new routes to market through social MDM.

My key take-aways were:

  1. Enterprises need to think about how outbound social engagement plays within their overall business plan. While I can’t imagine a company that won’t be impacted, it is important to realise that not all social engagement is necessary, or even worthwhile. It was highlighted that B2B enterprises may engage fully on LinkedIn, while B2C companies will focus more on Facebook. Furthermore, Twitter is a great tool for influencing the influencers (or for simply announcing news, activities and events). But Twitter has yet to prove itself in providing an engagement platform to talk to prospects. So the message is simple – choose your social platform based upon what you are trying to do!
  2. There is a clear role for social engagement both within and beyond the enterprise. In some respects you can distinguish companies that “talk the talk” from those that “walk the walk” by how vibrant their internal social networks are.
  3. The ability to measure sentiment across the Internet is becoming proven. Many tools exist to help companies achieve this – Andrew and Wilson gave great overviews of what their companies do, while I discussed how clients of ours are using Informatica for Sentiment Analysis or using Natural Language Processing to extract meaning from the social network traffic all around us. Indeed, new analytical tools are popping up all over the place to view and analyze social data.
  4. While sentiment analysis is maturing, the goal of modern marketers is now to crack the social paradigm by opening new channels to market. This is a new battleground – one that is an especially exciting topic for me since it comes down to the subject of “data” (Social MDM to be precise). By extending the understanding of a customer into their social relationships it is now possible to sell goods in new and innovative ways through the social networks.
  5. Trust is paramount. Without trust, social commerce will stall. We recently conducted research in the UK on this topic and it was intriguing (maybe natural) to see the younger generation far more trusting in giving up personal information. That said, I’m a total believer that Enterprises must be extremely careful about abusing trust – or risk a social backlash against their brand (or maybe I’m just getting old!).
  6. Social is no longer the pet project of corporate communications. It now touches all aspects of a company – whether that be thought leadership for product marketing, recruitment for HR, product feedback for engineering, case management for support or sentiment analysis for corporate communications. My conclusion was … it is no longer good enough to talk about doing social, you must “become” social. It’s time to get “all in”. (On a side-note I read a great article on Forbes about CEO’s participating in the social network: CEOs Afraid of Going Social are Doing Shareholders a Massive Disservice).

There is no doubt the world is changing. Modern marketers need to plan their strategies with a clear and focused scientific mind. It is time to tool up – leave no data behind, analyse all data and deliver the digital signature of your customers. Monitor sentiment and extend your understanding beyond the enterprise to the social networks. Indeed, walk the walk and become a social enterprise! If you don’t then I fear greatly for your future.

What do you think? Is this what you’re seeing too?

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